Thursday, August 29, 2013

Curious Creatures

This past Friday there were animals, feathered, scaled and fluffy at the Museum courtesy of Curious Creatures.  Not only did visitors have the chance to see the animals and learn about them, but they also had a chance to pet the animals as well.  Some of the many awesome animals that were at the Museum were a skunk, boa constrictor, chinchilla, bearded dragons and a flying squirrel.  Everyone in the audience had a chance to touch the animals during the show as well as the chance to spend time with some of the animals after the show as well.  The children helped hold up the boa constrictor, played with a fluffy bunny and provided a perch for the parrot.

Animals from every continent but Antarctica were present at the Museum on Friday.

  • Macaw's (parrot) can be found in South America.
  • Flying Squirrels can be found in North and Central America.
  • Alligator's can be found in North America and China.
  • Chinchilla's can be found in the Andes mountains in Peru and Chile.
  • Bearded Dragons can be found in central Australia.
  • Boa Constrictors can be found in North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
  • Scorpions can be found on every continent besides Antarctica but are not native to the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
  • Tarantula's can be found in the U.S., Mexico, South America, Africa, Australia and lower Asia.
  • Tropical frogs can be found in Central and South America.
  • Bunnies can be found in Southwestern Europe, Southeast Asial Africa, South America, Japan, Sumatra and in your own backyard.
  • Tortoise's, Skunks and King Snakes can all be found in North America.

There was a lot of fun and educational information in the show on Friday.  In case you missed the event, here are some of the many fun facts that we learned about the many different animals present.
  • A parrot’s jaw is so strong that it can break a human finger and crack open the hardest nuts.
  • Parrot's lose feathers every day.
  • Blue and gold Macaws from South America are as smart as a 3 year old. 
  • Bearded Dragon's are shades of yellow and tan to camouflage themselves in their habitat, the desert.
  • Bearded Dragon’s have no teeth and spike up when they feel threatened.
  • Aside from crocodiles, alligators have the strongest jaws of any animal.
  • Despite how hard a tortoise shell might seem, a jaguar can bite through it.
  • Tortoise shells grow in rings from the cracks on their shells.
  •  Skunks dig in the dirt for bugs to eat; the more bugs they eat the stinkier they get.
  • After a skunk sprays it can’t spray for a week.

Is your child curious about lots of different creatures?  If they are, don’t be afraid to encourage their love for animals.  Share these fun facts with them, take them out to explore at the zoo or on a farm and take them to the library to find books that can teach them more about their favorite animals.

For some more photos from Curious Creatures you can check out the slideshow below.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Jeremy the Juggler

We’ve hosted plenty of circus themed events in the past and one of the most popular circus activities is juggling! On July 18, Jeremy the Juggler came to the Children’s Museum in Easton to perform a spectacular juggling show and he was lovely enough to speak to us more about juggling!

Jeremy learned to juggle around the age of nine and began practicing it more seriously when he entered Vassar College in 2003. After college, Jeremy set out with some friends to create a professional performance group saying: ”The knowledge and critical thinking skills we got in school really enabled us to succeed not just as performers but as promoters and businessmen. Without those skills, we never would have been able to pull it off.” From there, Jeremy just never stopped juggling!

Now, he practices with a four person group. “Most of my practice is with a four person group. We get together for several hours every week to practice club passing, fire spinning, and group choreography,” Jeremy expands excitedly, “Earlier this year I got a set of two flaming nunchaku (nunchuks) that I’ve been bretty excited about. For regular circus props, I really enjoy diabolo tricks that involve letting go of one (or two!) of the hand sticks.” [see right]

Jeremy believes that the art of juggling is still relevant today, especially for children. “I think any kind of live performance is a great thing to experience, and I think hands-on circus arts demonstrations are especially great because they let kids see that even though the skills they see on stage aren’t easy, they’re still something that anybody can learn to do. It’s not on TV, it’s happening right in front of you and you get to try it yourself!” Jeremy explains.

He goes on to talk about how children are a great audience for juggling and circus acts: “Kids aren’t afraid to let you know they like something, or to come up and ask you to teach them. Adults and even college students are often afraid of looking silly, and so they miss out on a lot of opportunities. I love teaching kids because kids still have fun learning.”

Socially, Jeremy says, “I think juggling is neat in that it’s something anyone can do that produces something, even if that something is only a few seconds’ worth of entertainment. In the same way that youtube lets anyone put themselves on the internet and say ‘hey, look at me for a second, let me show you something I made,’ juggling lets anyone have a skill that they can use any time, any place. I’ve had dozens of conversations with strangers just because I was standing around in an airport juggling. It’s a nice alternative to sitting by yourself on your phone.”

As Jeremy reiterated, juggling has many benefits. For children, learning the art can teach self discipline, motor skills, social skills, and much more.

If you want to learn more about juggling, other circus activities, or simply get involved in another circus themed event you’re in luck! The Children’s Museum in Easton is hosting the Vegetable Circus on Thursday August 29! Stop on by between 10am and 3pm for more circus fun!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


When you hear the word “stem” you usually think of various types of plants. However, when we think of STEM we are really focusing on something different. We at the Children’s Museum in Easton spoke with our outreach educators Krissy Cannizzo and Michelle VanVoorhis about what STEM really means and how we’re using it to enhance your child’s education!

The acronym STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Coalition works to support STEM programs for teachers and students at the U. S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM related programs,” explains Michelle, “Members of the STEM Coalition believe that our nation must improve the way our students learn science, mathematics, technology and engineering and that the business, education, and STEM communities must work together to achieve this goal.”
Many children grow up learning to be fearful of these fields. They think they are boring or too hard or simply follow in their parents’ footsteps. If you despise these subjects, there is a good chance your children will learn that from you. However, through implementing STEM ideologies the coalition aims to garner more interest in these subjects for the bettering of your children’s education, and ultimately, our society.

As Michelle expands on this idea she says, “My aim is for children to feel that science, technology, engineering, and math are activities they can enjoy doing.  Through these fun activities, children can develop basic understandings and be inspired to continue to pursue interests in these areas.  Parents can also come to the understanding that STEM is not ‘just for boys’ or ‘just for smart people’. “

You may be asking, “how can math, science, and technology be easy?” Well, there are actually many simple activities you can do that use these principles if only you look at them in different ways.

Krissy provides us some examples: “Yesterday I was at a YMCA in West Roxbury where the children built (engineered) boats then tested the strength and durability of their designs using weighted mainipulatives.  I then incorporate mathematics in the experiment by challenging them to add and subtract weight.  

Our second project involved testing and mixing amounts of food coloring to water (mathematics) to make the primary colors and then giving them the opportunity to explore and mix colors on wax paper ( science/chromatology).  After using paper towels to blot up the mixed colors, the children could let the paper towels dry and construct (engineer) butterflies.  

The last project provided the children to briefly learn about the history of dinosaurs and their extinction through the ice ages.  I gave each child a cup of ice with a dinosaur frozen inside which they can explore ways to excavate using salt, warm water vs. cold water, etc.”

There are a lot of different activities parents and families can do with their children that promote this type of developmental learning. Your children will be learning while having fun!

Krissy says, “Visit the website along with the PBS Zoom and Fetch sites that can recommend activities, games and books, visit their local libraries especially this summer.  The local libraries in the SAIL Network are offering free workshops related to STEM, and of course visit the Children’s Museum in Easton where STEM can be found in all the exhibits.”

The Children’s Museum in Easton works hard to incorporate STEM in both the museum and its programs. Michelle shows us that STEM is incorporated in “The Fetch lab, many of the drop in classes, the Raceways, Wild Place…and parents can incorporate STEM questions almost anywhere, such as counting, estimating, predicting, building, designing, comparing, etc.” The Museum even offers Education Outreach programs that come to you! Check them out here:

No matter who you are, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are all important in the world we live in. The STEM program is great for getting your child off to the right start! Whether you begin trying some activities at home or you bring your children to our museum, keep these ideologies in mind and your children will be on a great track.